Preview: England v Uruguay

Date published: October 9 2015

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England and Uruguay will say farewell to the 2015 Rugby World Cup when the two knocked out sides meet in Manchester on Saturday.

What a shambles this fixture now is for the World Cup hosts. The word from inside the camp might be that the players have moved on and that this game matters, but don't believe a word of it.

No host side has ever been in this position, and having to face the 19th side in the world in a game that means absolutely nothing is a fair punishment for England's disastrous campaign.

It's not even the biggest game in Manchester on Saturday, with Super League's Grand Final between Leeds and Wigan taking place at Old Trafford.

That isn't meant as any disrespect to Uruguay, whose tenacity in all three of their games so far has been admirable.

Scoring two tries on Tuesday against Fiji was a fair reward for the effort they've shown. The celebrations too after Carlos Arboleya's try were very special.

Having a five-day turnaround isn't ideal for head coach Pablo Lemoine but he may feel his side's work in this tournament is done having broken their try drought and stuck at it in every contest so far, not to mention raising the profile of the sport back home.

2015 has been a far more successful campaign for Uruguay than 2003 in Australia, when their participation ended with a 111-13 loss to England with Josh Lewsey scoring five tries. That won't happen again in Manchester.

Crucially for los Teros, scrum-half Agustín Ormaechea is free to play despite being shown a red card against Fiji for two offences. 

Ormaechea has been Uruguay's best player at the World Cup and scored their second try in Milton Keynes, so having him available is a big deal.

England's selection feels more about giving those players kept in the shadows a chance at this World Cup, not that they'll want to dwell on any memories from the last few weeks.

Nick Easter, James Haskell, David Wilson and Geoff Parling are unlikely to be around in Japan in 2019, the same can be said for Richard Wigglesworth, but for the rest of England's players this is a chance to try and create something positive to take forward into next year's Six Nations.

Henry Slade and Jack Nowell's first appearances come way too late into the tournament, with George Ford rightly restored at fly-half after lifting England's attack in the dying stages last Saturday.

Lancaster has almost gone too far by lurching from few playmakers to four; with Alex Goode in at full-back and Owen Farrell shifted to inside centre. England should create plenty of chances – we'll see who steps up to finish them off.

A 50 to 60 point win is expected but even that will just be a plaster over a bigger wound.

Once the quarter-finals get underway and England are watching at home, or trying to focus on Premiership rugby with their clubs, then the true pain will set in.

Ones to Watch

For England: Ask anyone who's seen Henry Slade play in the flesh and they'll tell you he's the real deal, seemingly destined to be England's next inside centre given his left boot and ability to do it all, with Matt Giteau being touted as a comparison. Slade might be best classified as playmaker but he's no soft touch at 188cm. He should excel against this opposition.

For Uruguay: No one has been more effective getting Uruguay over the gain line than Alejandro Nieto, with the number eight also recording his team's second highest number of tackles. He has to keep up that work-rate again on both sides of the ball if los Teros are going to be competitive.

Head-to-head: Having not even touched the matchday 23 four years on from when he was ruled out before the 2011 World Cup through injury, Danny Care at last gets a chance to make his World Cup debut. Adding more pace from half-back, Care should relish the chance to attack Uruguay around the fringes of the ruck. Having Agustín Ormaechea available despite his red card is massive for Uruguay given he's been their top performer in the tournament, looking a cut above his team-mates in terms of his vision.

Previous results:

2003: England won 111-13 in Brisbane

Prediction: England should canter to a 50 or 60 point win given Uruguay's short turnaround and their desperation to make amends. But it's hard to get too excited about this one. England by 50.

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 James Haskell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 David Wilson, 19 George Kruis, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Jonathan Joseph, 23 Mike Brown

Uruguay: 15 Gaston Mieres, 14 Santiago Gibernau, 13 Joaquin Prada, 12 Andres Vilaseca, 11 Rodrigo Silva, 10 Felipe Berchesi, 9 Agustín Ormaechea, 8 Alejandro Nieto, 7 Matias Beer, 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara, 5 Jorge Zerbino, 4 Santiago Vilaseca (c), 3 Mario Sagario, 2 Carlos Arboleya, 1 Mateo Sanguinetti
Replacements: 16 Nicolas Klappenbach, 17 Oscar Duran, 18 Alejo Corral, 19 Mathias Palomeque, 20 Diego Magnol 21 Agustín Alonso, 22 Alejo Durán, 23 Manuel Blengio

Date: Saturday, October 10
Venue: Manchester City Stadium, Manchester
Kick-off: 20:00 local (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

by Ben Coles

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